Opportunity School District Amendment Gets An Endorsement; Opponents File Lawsuit To Prevent Enactment

A lot of ire has been cast towards Governor Nathan Deal by some conservatives and teachers over the Opportunity School Districts.  Opposition to the OSD amendment point towards the big, bad state government “overreaching” and circumventing local control of schools….even though the amendment allows for the state to step in after a school fails to meet metrics for three years in a row.  Conservatives are against more government, right?  Well, I’d argue that conservatism isn’t (shouldn’t) be against government for government’s sake, but rather should be conservative in application of government.  In other words, it’s not the first tool we reach for in our tool belt.

Scott Johnson, former Cobb County GOP chairman, former 11th District GOP chairman, and current state school board member, penned an op-ed in support of the OSD amendment.  In his essay, he notes that the driving force behind this amendment is to help break children out of failing schools:

A school that fails to properly educate its students perpetuates cycles of poverty and increases the likelihood of incarceration. For many students, educational opportunities provide the best chance to break out of these cycles. And for many of these same students, the status quo is not working.

Opponents of this plan offer nothing as an alternative but to keep doing the same old things and hope for a better result. But hope is not a strategy and we know that continuing with a failed process nearly always produces the same failed results. I ask those who recoil at the thought of this solution, which of you is willing to enroll your child in a one of these schools you are so ardent to protect?

That’s a good question.  Unfortunately, opponents have yet to provide alternative plans to help provide a quality education to children in Georgia.  Rather than discussing alternatives, opponents have decided to launch a last-ditch effort to prevent the implementation of the OSD, if approved, by filing a lawsuit.  From a presser we received from Opportunity for All Georgia Students:

Opponents of the Opportunity School District today filed a last-minute lawsuit intended to prevent the state from rescuing children trapped in chronically failing schools.
“This is a last-minute media stunt engineered by outside special interest groups in order to generate publicity,” said Tom Willis, director of the Opportunity for All Georgia Students coalition. “This frivolous lawsuit demonstrates the depths to which some outside groups will go to defend the status quo. They are playing political games with the futures of 68,000 students trapped in failing schools. It’s unconscionable to hold these students hostage simply to generate news headlines.”
The 68,000 students trapped in 127 failing schools across Georgia, through no fault of their own, deserve the same opportunities as other children. The Opportunity School District would provide that chance. Learn more here.
It’s time to try something different.  Republicans claim to be the “Party of Ideas”, and this is something that is being tried in other southern states (with positive results).   A collective digging heels into the dirt for the sake of “not growing government” without offering alternatives other than the status quo will not do anything to help these students.  My understanding is that the OSD amendment will include involvement of parents and teachers (and why wouldn’t it since they would know the area the best), so I believe it’s something worth trying.

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rickday
rickday

There is no evidence the state will do any better, unless they set the metric themselves.

Crate a problem, then use government as a solution. Didn’t Daddy Ron warn you guys about that tactic?

xdog
xdog

I kind of agree with rickday. The state came up with a measure of accountability and decided what passing means. A few years ago they had a different measure. In a couple of years they’ll have another. Meanwhile they’ll get their amendment, spend some money, announce success, job over. That 68K number gets thrown around a lot. It’s less than 4 percent of Georgia’s secondary public school enrollment. Too bad if you’re in that group but there will always be a bottom 4 percent. At any rate, Deal has every goper worthy and wannabe in the state behind the issue.… Read more »

bethebalance
bethebalance

in the argument re: local control, there’s an efficiency argument to be had as well. if a state or local unit solves a problem better or cheaper or both, then conservatism should argue the more efficient unit handle it. similarly, there’s an efficiency argument with the OSD. what’s the most efficient way to solve the problem of failing schools? at first blush, a constitutional amendment and referendum seem quite an inefficiency. as does the language of the amendment which appears to throw the baby out w the bathwater, even if parents and teachers are intended to be involved in implementation.… Read more »

Rambler14
Rambler14

“Republicans claim to be the “Party of Ideas”, and this is something that is being tried in other southern states (with positive results).”

If passed, I hope Georgia implements it in a lot better way than Louisiana did. The results there are NOT positive.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Of course no one disagrees with the stated goals of the amendment. It’s how to achieve it that is a problem.

As far as I know, Gov. Deal has the power to replace School Board members if their accreditation gets suspended. If these schools are so bad, why hasn’t that happened? Do we need a different agency to handle accreditation?

As far as I am concerned, it is the school boards that need to be held accountable. They are responsible for the administration in these schools.

Charlie
Charlie

I’m not an expert on SACS or any other accreditation agency, but my understanding of them is they deal a lot more with policy and process rather than results. (Most of the systems that had issues with accreditation in Georgia were because the board members meddled in school operations rather than setting policy for administrators to follow). That said, your last statement is correct and the root of the problem. Schools are allowed to fail year after year, and the school board is not held accountable. They rely on system averages, and leave the hardest to teach in a situation… Read more »

Benevolus
Benevolus

I would suggest a more direct and perhaps meaningful constitutional amendment might then be to allow the Gov (or his appointed agency) to replace school board members instead of administrators or teachers if certain standards aren’t met. How is a non-local board going to replace local teachers and administrators? They are going to end up having to hire people mostly in that community, unless they plan on getting some hot shot principal to move there and kick butts. Is the OSD going to send someone to Valdosta (or wherever) to interview candidates, or will they make everyone come to Atlanta?… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

“This is a last-minute media stunt engineered by outside special interest groups in order to generate publicity.”

says the director of a special interest group that was created two months ago to promote adoption of the amendment.

No website as far as I can tell, and I’ll wager wholly or mostly powered by dark money, or special interests that seek to curry favor with Deal.